28 Basho poems on the experience of drinking and being drunk
Rice is traditionally planted by the young women of the village, their fertility believed to magically transfer to the paddies, to bring a bountiful harvest. After they plant every field in the village, it’s time to celebrate 8 Rice planting maidens are lined up to drink sake -- Holding snow in summer twin peaks of Tsukuba As they lined up in the paddy to plant rice, now the group, holding cups of wine, lines up either standing to give a toast or sitting at long tables covered with food and drink. Their faces also are lined up, each face between two streams of straight black hair, From these young unmarried women drinking sake, Basho jumps to Mount Tsukuba (45 minutes by train north of Tokyo) famous for its two prominent peaks, almost the same height. The last bits of snow up there do not melt until early summer. Notice how Basho brings our attention to those twin peaks. So we see Basho was aware of the mountains growing up the robes of young women drinking sake to lower their inhibitions. Firefly-viewing the steersman drunk it’s hopeless! Our boat is supposed to move quietly through the dark water so as not to frighten the tiny living lights, but the steersmen – and everyone else too – is tipsy and the boat careens about, so not one firefly is seen, but it really doesn’t matter since none of us can stop giggling.
The pretty white flower of a common climbing vine, “evening faces,” is associated with Lady Yugao, one of Genji’s lovers in the Tale. 9 Evening faces – my drunken face goes out the window hole You got to be drunk (or stoned) to get the funny. These two renku pairs combine alcoholism with gambling: Sake drinking auntie her especial loneliness – In a letter she tells all her grief at playing dice The old woman lives out her life with no purpose except to drink and writes in detail her misery gambling over dice. Bald from sake his head has become In the twilight peering at the eyes of the dice The first stanza is a joke; this old guy has drunk so much sake he has gone bald from it. As evening falls, the old drunken guy goes on gambling till he can barely see the spots on the dice, no less count them.